Most of us think of inflation in terms of economics. But it’s also a psychological term, coined by the Swiss psychiatrist, C. G. Jung.
For Jung, psychological inflation denotes the unsavory but, perhaps, temporarily unavoidable situation that can occur during the individuation process (another one of Jung’s ideas that points to a life-long process of self realization).
Inflation in the Jungian sense refers to a person’s ego-consciousness that uncritically and, often zealously, identifies with archetypal contents. This results in a loss of sensible discrimination and a regression into archetypal unconsciousness. It’s also “characterized by an exaggerated sense of self-importance, often compensated by feelings of inferiority.”¹
Although some popular writers combine the ideas of inflation and conscious self-aggrandizement, for Jung the two are different mechanisms with different psycho-social outcomes.
Concerning religious leaders, teachers and alleged prophets, whether such figures are psychologically inflated (and trying to spread that condition to others) or, rather, genuine holy persons remains a matter of much and often heated debate.
Leon Schlamm’s excellent entry on inflation in the Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion, Volume 2, is freely available online for preview: http://bit.ly/qV25Um.
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